March is Child Life Month. As we celebrate the important role child life specialists play in the care of children at our Shriners Hospital, we invite you to meet our very special team. A hospital stay can be a stressful time for both children and their parents. Child life specialists help patients and their families cope with the experience by giving children opportunities to play, learn and express themselves in a safe and compassionate environment of care. By working directly with patients, child life specialists empower children to express their fears, gain awareness about their medical care and, in turn, the ability to positively deal with their hospital experience.
Name: Caitlin French
Occupation/Title: Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS)
Interests / Hobbies: I love to go on day hikes around the area. I enjoy baking and sharing what I make with my co-workers. I enjoy exercising daily. I am also currently finishing up my Masters of Education in Applied Behavior Analysis from Arizona State.
When did you start working at Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California? I began in 2012 as an Activities Coordinator, completed my internship and transitioned into the Child Life position in 2014.
Why did you choose to become a Child Life specialist? I was a Psychology major in school and found myself really enjoying the human development aspect of psychology and started researching professions in that field. I found child life which combined my interest in psychology, the medical field, and working with children, the profession seemed too good to not pursue. I love being the safe person for the child and an advocate for the family.
Can you share a bit about what makes your job so rewarding? When I walk into a patient’s room and see the child’s face light up because their friend is there. I also enjoy being part of the learning and education process for the families for diagnosis, upcoming surgeries and procedures. There are times that I will be meeting with a family that are feeling overwhelmed with medical jargon. I enjoy being able to explain things in a way they can understand.
How would you describe a good day at work? I am fortunate to work with a great team that communicates and supports each other. A good day at work is when I am able to spend time with each of my patients, provide them with support and see them using the coping techniques we have been working on.
What would you like the community to know about Shriners Hospitals for Children-Northern California? Our department relies heavily on donations and support from the community, and are truly fortunate to benefit from all the wonderful community support this hospital receives.
Thank you so much Caitlin for taking the time to tell us more about your role at Shriners and thank you for your dedication to our patients and families.